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Title:Normative Influence, Consensus Requirements and the Assessment of Opinion Change in Groups (Group Polarization, Altitude Change, Participation)
Author(s):Nagao, Dennis Hiroshi
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Social
Abstract:A conceptual distinction between the individual-group decision difference phenomenon generally known as the "choice-shift" and the individual level pre- to post-discussion opinion change phenomenon identified by Myers and Lamm (1976) as "group polarization" is noted. It is argued that the lack of the preceding distinction has resulted in the development and dominance of a "standard" research paradigm based at the group level of analysis. It is shown that the group level measures of opinion change associated with the "standard" paradigm, while appropriate for choice-shift investigations, does not fully capture the pattern of individual opinion change that may result from group discussion. This paper proposes: (a) an alternative method of assessing opinion change in groups; (b) a means of characterizing opinion tasks in terms of external reference norms; and (c) a social comparison of opinions, rather than abilities, explanation of group mediated opinion change. The usefulness of the preceding as well as the potential impact of a procedural variable, consensus requirements, are illustrated in an investigation of opinion change in four-person groups composed of two distinct, opposing (in abortion attitude preference) subgroups. Each of three possible types of non-unanimous groups (3 pro, 1 con; 2 pro, 2 con; 1 pro, 3 con) were composed. While the results of group-level opinion change analyses (depolarization) supported persuasive arguments theory over social comparison based explanations, the underlying pattern of subgroup and individual opinion change did not. A significantly greater degree of group member opinion change was found to occur in groups which reached a consensus decision than in groups which were either unable to reach a consensus or were asked only to discuss the issue. The implications of the findings for the study of group mediated opinion change are discussed.
Issue Date:1984
Description:115 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1984.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8422785
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1984

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